Sept. 18, 2014, CHICAGO – As the breeze and waves built on the second day of the Qualifying Series at the Chicago Match Cup, so did the competitiveness as teams fought hard for the top four slots to automatically advance to the Quarter Finals. The Chicago Match Cup is the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT).
Today the top two teams from yesterday continued their winning ways to end up well clear of the field of 12 teams from nine nations. Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One continued to lead the pack, achieving a nearly undefeated record by falling only to Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing and accumulating 10 points.
Next on the leaderboard was Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar, who fell to fellow Tour Card holders Canfield and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team to score 9 points and get his invitation to the next stage.
The remaining two slots could only be determined by tie-break, and only by the results of an intense shoot-out, all-out match in the final flight of the series.
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team was not having a great start to the Qualifying series, coming into the day with only a two points to his scorecard and not looking strong despite impressive winning results in some recent Grade 2 events in the U.S. in the past month.
But the tide started turning (even here in non-tidal waters) for the French team starting in Flight 10, with successive victories earned against Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets (this would prove fortuitous), then Don Wilson (USA), then Tom Slingsby (AUS) Slingsby Sailing Team. After a break in the next two flights, Morvan's winning ways continued with wins earned against Hansen and Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below, setting themselves up for a final showdown match in the last flight: if they won this match, they would tie Robertson and Richard on 7 points, but since both Morvan and Robertson defeated Richard, then they would go through and leave Richard to fight again in the Repechage.
This critical last match was against Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox, another team with a slow start to the event, but had plenty of fight left in them even at the very end of a long day. It looked as though Morvan would be in control, having won the right side of the first beat, but then a close cross by the Swiss at the first top mark put Morvan behind for the first run to the leeward gate.
Aggressive pumping and sail trim on the run brought Morvan nearly even to Monnin for the next beat, and at the top of the leg the two tangled, leaving Morvan with a penalty and allowing Monnin to continue with a slim lead for the final run to the finish.
Morvan would not give up, and impressive downwind pace and positioning put them within striking range of the Swiss, first to one length, then down to one meter, and finally overlapped to leeward. With Rule 17 suspended on the AWMRT, this effectively pinned out Monnin, who was unable to gybe for the finish, and with nothing to lose but his penalty, Morvan drove the pair beyond the layline to the pin.
Monnin tried to gybe anyway, collided with Morvan and earning himself a penalty for his efforts, which then offset Morvan's to wipe the slate clean. But by doing this deliberately to take control at the finish line, Monnin received another penalty, and thereby ceded the match to Morvan.
Those remaining eight teams that fell short will have tomorrow to try again in the Repechage round robin to be in the top four, while the four victors from today will wait to see who they face in the Quarter Finals.
Another element to today's racing was the use of the guest rider program, where selected guests can be in the middle of all this action as a rider on the stern of the CMRC's TOM 28 class boats. Today's guests were from Wintrust Commercial Banking, who enjoyed racing with several of the teams vying for a place in the Quarter Finals.
Repechage round robin match racing continues tomorrow at 0930 CDT.
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 10-1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 9-2
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 7-4
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 7-4
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 7-4
Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing 5-6
Tom Slingsby (AUS) Team Tom Slingsby 4-7
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Team Trifork 4-7
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 4-7
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 4-7
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox 3-8
Don Wilson (USA) Chicago Match Race Center 2-9
Tom Slingsby on his WMRT debut: